As Buckley city leaders began the process of crafting a 2021 budget, they went directly to the people most impacted by dollars-and-cents decisions. A survey was made available, asking city residents their views on items directly impacted by financial decisions.
It was the first time Buckley had attempted a budget survey and the response was deemed a success. The city posted the survey to its website and made hard copies available. Eventually, they heard from 151 individuals; of those, 86 percent reported having a home or business within the city limits.
City Administrator Paul Weed shared the survey findings in a memo to members of the Buckley City Council. “One immediate take-away from this survey was the need to better communicate and engage the community across all departments,” he noted.
Here are some survey highlights:
• 51 percent of respondents were unfamiliar with the process the city uses to develop its annual budget.
• 82 percent stated they felt “safe” walking alone in their neighborhood during the day and 87 percent felt “somewhat safe” to “very safe” walking alone in their neighborhood at night.
• Overall, residents are satisfied with city services like water, parks, police, fire and programs).
• However, to the tune of 68 percent, respondents said they would like to see more (or were dissatisfied with the) variety of restaurants/shops and community activities.
• Top priorities were preventing crime and ensuring prompt fire and emergency medical response.
• A majority of respondents stated what they most like about Buckley is the cleanliness, safe feeling and small-town atmosphere.
• When asked if they had $100 to spend on the city, the top responses were that they would spend it on crime control, food options, parks/trails and traffic.
• When asked what they would use to help balance the city’s budget, the top responses were “introduce new user fees for some city services that currently have no fees” (21 percent), “reduce the level of city services such as hours or frequency of service” (19 percent), and “partner or outsource city services (19 percent).
• When asked how respondents kept in touch with what is going on with the city, top responses were the city Facebook page and the city website. Most respondents also felt that they were satisfied with the frequency and the quality of information provided.
MORE FROM BUCKLEY
Catching up on other Buckley news, here’s a look at some of the action items from the City Council’s Sept. 22 session. Meeting again by Zoom, members of the council:
• Were updated on Buckley Municipal Court functions and how things have operated during the COVID-19 era.
The court “is continuing to operate at near normal capacity but with several changes in day-to-day operations,” according to a memo provided by Court Administrator Jessica Cash.
The court suspended all in-person hearings between March 16 and May 27, 2020 then opened with “several changes to accommodate the health and safety of staff and all parties required to appear,” Cash reported. Currently, the court is operating under a hybrid model of both in-person and virtual hearings while live-streaming on YouTube.
“While this has been a technical challenge it has also greatly improved public interaction and has allowed in-person hearings to be more intentional and focused,” Cash reported.
The Buckley court has received money through the CARES act to help during the pandemic. The Administrative Office of the Courts has refunded the cost of both a webcam and a year-long subscription to the Zoom platform. The Buckley court also has submitted a request for funding to purchase an additional laptop for staff use, a tablet for public use and two additional webcams.
“There will also be a submission for funding to assist in the possible rental of space that can accommodate jury trials once they are able to resume,” Cash reported.
• Heard of a new addition to the Buckley Fire Department’s fleet of vehicles.
Information provided by Fire Chief Eric Skogen detailed the acquisition of a “low-mileage, 1995 Ford F-350, Type 6 Wildland Brush Truck.” The rig was purchased from East Pierce Fire and Rescue, which recently added two new brush trucks to its inventory.
Skogen indicated his department received a sweet deal on the truck because East Pierce is interested in seeing Buckley expand its capabilities.
“East Pierce offered this vehicle to us for $750, with the intent of helping to provide initial training and support to create a Wildland Firefighting Team for the City of Buckley Fire Department,” Skogen wrote in a memo to council. Kelly Blue Book places the vehicle’s value at approximately $5,100, he added.
• Accepted, as complete, the Cedar Street Improvement Project.
The project called for road reconstruction and the replacement of utilities on Cedar Street between Main Street and Jefferson Avenue, as well as an alley just south of Main.
Doing the work was Reed Trucking and Excavating of Puyallup, along with a dozen subcontractors. The total bill for the project was just shy of $1.3 million.